The tourist rest area in the town of Roxas in Northern Palawan inaugurated on April 12 by DOT Sec. Christina Garcia-Frasco.

Weary travelers exploring Northern Palawan now have a haven as Roxas town unveils its latest addition: a new tourism rest area (TRA) boasting essential amenities such as restrooms, seating, and refreshments, providing a much-needed sanctuary for those undertaking lengthy journeys.

An initiative spearheaded by the Department of Tourism (DOT), hailed as a top priority under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., this facility serves as a central hub where both foreign visitors and local tourists can seek information on tourist sites, activities, accommodations, and safety measures.

It provides essential amenities like clean restrooms, ensuring a comfortable and hassle-free experience throughout their stay at any destination.

DOT Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco last week, April 12, presided over the inauguration of the TRA on the national highway in Sitio Bagto, Barangay Nicholas, Roxas, as part of the government’s efforts to improve the tourism infrastructures in Northern Palawan.

Present during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first Tourist Rest Area in Palawan were Municipal Mayor Dennis Sabando, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco, Board Member Toto Pineda, and representatives from the Roxas LGU and House Speaker Martin Romualdez’ office.

Located two hours north of Puerto Princesa and within a 1-3 hour drive from San Vicente and El Nido, Roxas stands as a locale where the tourism sector remains underdeveloped.

Roxas Municipal Mayor Dennis Sabando emphasized that the area’s local policies have traditionally prioritized infrastructure development and agricultural livelihood over the tourism sector.

“Sa loob ng mahabang panahon tahimik ang turismo ng bayan ng Roxas, dahil nakatutok kami sa pagpalago at pagpapayaman ng ibang sektor (…) na siyang pangunahing kabuhayan ng ating mga mamayan. Hindi namin sinasara ang aming pintuan sa iba pang economic activities,” Sabando said, adding that the TRA was a ‘starting mark’ of the municipality’s tourism potential.

Although renowned as the “Cashew Capital of the Philippines” and a leading cashew exporter alongside El Nido and Dumaran, the municipality of Roxas has yet to fully embrace cashew-related tourism initiatives.

Despite being recognized for its cashew production, Roxas faces challenges during the lean season from June to December when cashew trees bear fruit only once a year, particularly affecting small-scale producers. Previous efforts by the provincial government in 2017 aimed to support cashew farmers in securing sustainable livelihoods.

The TRA in Roxas offers restroom facilities, a café transformed into a pasalubong center, and a variety of cashew seed products harvested and processed locally. Additionally, the TRA showcases the indigenous Batak tribe from Barangay Abaroan, with elders and children performing a traditional dance during the inauguration ceremony, highlighting the rich cultural heritage of the community.

There were also photos of the few tourist attractions found in Roxas, which included the meandering Barbacan River, the New Rizal Falls, and the Banwa private island.

Frasco arrived after a short burst of rain over Roxas, and presided over the inauguration and blessing of the building.

“I totally understand the challenges in terms of matching their vision for tourism with the budget kaya po magtulong tulong tayo. (…) Kapag ang priority po ng ating local chief executives ay turismo, makikita natin na lalago talaga [iyan]. You are not alone in your aspirations for tourism decslooments,” Frasco said, adding that the DOT and the current administration was ready to build more infrastructure projects.

Frasco also apologized for the delay, as their chartered plane made an emergency landing in Nicanor Zabala National High School following a sudden thunderstorm warning.

“Nagulat sila, akala ng mga teacher kung anong nangyayari, pati yung mga students naglabasan. Pero alam niyo my experience having an emergency landing [in Roxas] gave me an insight into the heart of the Filipino. Ang warm ng hospitality nila sa akin, pinakain pa nila ako ng banana cue habang inaantay ang sasakyan dito,” Garcia-Frasco said, adding that the situation reflected the best of Filipino tourism.

The TRA in Roxas marked the 16th TRA to be built nationwide. The second TRA in Palawan will be built in Brooke’s Point.